William Safire, the New York Times' in-house "conservative" ? who endorsed Bill Clinton in 1992, like so many conservatives ? was sure Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ" would incite anti-Semitic violence. Thus far, the pogroms have failed to materialize.
With all the subtlety of a Mack truck, Safire called Gibson's movie a version of "the medieval 'passion play,' preserved in pre-Hitler Germany at Oberammergau, a source of the hatred of all Jews as 'Christ killers.'" (Certainly every Aryan Nation skinhead murderer I've ever met was also a devoted theater buff and "passion play" aficionado.)
The "passion play" has been put on in Germany since at least 1633. I guess 1633 would be "pre-Hitler." In addition, Moses walked the Earth "pre-Hitler." The wheel was invented "pre-Hitler." People ate soup "pre-Hitler." Referring to the passion play as "pre-Hitler" is a slightly fancier version of every adolescent's favorite argument: You're like Hitler!
Despite repeated suggestions from liberals ? including the in-house "conservative" and Clinton-supporter at the Times ? Hitler is not what happens when you gin up Christians. Like Timothy McVeigh, the Columbine killers and the editorial board of the New York Times, Hitler detested Christians.
Indeed, Hitler denounced Christianity as an "invention of the Jew" and vowed that the "organized lie (of Christianity) must be smashed" so that the state would "remain the absolute master." Interestingly, this was the approach of all the great mass murderers of the last century ? all of whom were atheists: Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.
In the United States, more than 30 million babies have been killed by abortion since Roe v. Wade, vs. seven abortion providers killed. Yeah ? keep your eye on those Christians!
But according to liberals, it's Christianity that causes murder. (And don't get them started on Zionism.) Like their Muslim friends still harping about the Crusades, liberals won't "move on" from the Spanish Inquisition. In the entire 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition, about 30,000 people were killed. That's an average of less than 100 a year. Stalin knocked off that many kulaks before breakfast.
But Safire argues that viewers of "The Passion" will see the Jewish mob and think: "Who was responsible for this cruel humiliation? What villain deserves to be punished?"
Let's see: It was a Roman who ordered Christ's execution, and Romans who did all the flaying, taunting and crucifying. Perhaps Safire is indulging in his own negative stereotyping about Jews by assuming they simply viewed Romans as "the help."
But again I ask: Does anyone at the Times have the vaguest notion what Christianity is? (Besides people who go around putting up nativity scenes that have to be taken down by court order?) The religion that toppled the Roman Empire ? anyone?
Jesus' suffering and death is not a Hatfields-and-McCoys story demanding retaliation. The gist of the religion that transformed the world is: God's only son came to Earth to take the punishment we deserved.
If the Jews had somehow managed to block Jesus' crucifixion and He had died in old age of natural causes, there would be no salvation through Christ and no Christianity. Whatever possible responses there may be to that story, this is not one of them: Damn those Jews for being a part of God's plan to save my eternal soul!
Gibson didn't insert Jews into the story for some Machiavellian, racist reason. Christ was a Jew crucified by Romans at the request of other Jews in Jerusalem. I suppose if Gibson had moved the story to suburban Cleveland and portrayed Republican logging executives crucifying Christ, the left would calm down. But it simply didn't happen that way.
Of course, the original text is no excuse in Hollywood. The villains of Tom Clancy's book "The Sum of All Fears" were recently transformed from Muslim terrorists to neo-Nazis for the movie version. You wouldn't want to upset the little darlings. They might do something rash like slaughter 3,000 innocent American civilians in a single day. The only religion that can be constantly defamed and insulted is the one liberals pretend to be terrified of.